Richmond Symphony Brings The Damnation of Faust to the Carpenter Theater
The Damnation of Faust, an epic opera story about man’s struggle against the devil, plays at the Carpenter Theater this weekend. The opera plays May 17th at 8PM and also May 18th at 3PM. The show is the season finale for the Richmond Symphony.
The Damnation of Faust is a dramatic opera composed by French composer, Hector Berlioz. The show was first performed in 1846. The opera is performed in French, but for this weekend’s showing of the Damnation of Faust, supertitles in English will be present so it is easier for English-speaking viewers to understand. The opera is divided into four separate parts and features four main characters: Faust, Mephistopheles, Brander and Marguerite.
Vale Rideout, Andrew Gangestad, Jason Hardy and Elizabeth Bishop play the main characters. Barbara Baker, chorus manager, finds this opera piece particularly interesting because as Baker states “there is a large men’s part in the chorus that we don’t usually see.”
In the first part of the opera, Faust, an aging scholar, is contemplating the cycle and renewal of life and nature. As peasants sing and dance nearby, Faust realizes he will never enjoy the simple happiness the peasant enjoy. This thought, among others, depresses him.
In the second part of the opera, Faust continues to dwell on his depression and contemplates suicide. However, before he has a chance to act on his desire for suicide, Faust is reminded of the days of his youth when he was much happier. Faust decides against suicide and out of nowhere, Mephistopheles, the devil disguised as a gentleman, appears.
Mephistopheles promises Faust the happiness, youth and knowledge that Faust has seemingly lost if he goes on journey with him. Faust agrees and the two begin their journey. Shortly, they arrive in a tavern in which a young man, Brander, is singing about death. The irony of the song along with the overall vulgarity of the tavern disgusts Faust and he requests that he and Mephistopheles leave immediately. They leave and Mephistopheles presents Faust with a vision of Marguerite, an extremely beautiful young woman, and Faust instantly falls in love. Faust desires to see her so Mephistopheles and Faust set off for her town.
The rest of the show is tragic, but epic in scale and theme. The story of Faust and Mephistopheles has been retold countless times, but this is your chance to see the original.
The showing of The Damnation of Faust by the Richmond Symphony this weekend is a must-see for all Richmond opera lovers.
Steven Smith, conductor of the opera, states that the opera is “so vivid with its dramatic characters, bold orchestration, and vibrant chorus that there is no need for sets or costumes. The music itself fills the stage.” It’s no wonder that the Richmond Symphony chose to end their season with this opera.
Erin Freeman, associate conductor and director of the Richmond Symphony, explains that the opera this weekend “combines all of human emotion” and “takes every single thing that the singers, orchestra and chorus can do and puts it together in one piece for the audience to really experience.”
And how could opera- lovers resist that?
Tickets are still available for purchase at richmondsymphony.com and start at $10. Children under 18 are free as long as they are with an adult with a paid ticket. Tickets are available at a discounted rate of $7 for college students with a valid student ID at the Richmond Center Stage box office.
The Richmond Symphony released its 2014-15 season preview last week and we’re pumped for a long list of exciting, talented, and unique chances to catch some amazing performances here in RVA. “I am confident that in looking at the 2014-2015 Richmond Symphony season you will find something familiar you would love to hear as well [...]March 4, 2014
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